Beginner Gardener FAQs
What are the best plants for a beginner gardener?
Some easy-to-grow plants for beginner gardeners include herbs (such as basil, mint, and parsley), lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and sunflowers. These plants are generally hardy and forgiving, and they can be grown in a variety of conditions.
How do I choose the right location for my garden?
When choosing a location for your garden, consider the following factors:
Sunlight: Different plants have different sunlight requirements. Make sure to choose a location that gets the appropriate amount of sunlight for the plants you want to grow.
Soil type: The type of soil in your garden will affect the health of your plants. If your soil is poor, you may need to amend it with compost or other organic matter.
Accessibility: Choose a location that is convenient for you to access and care for your garden.
Size: Consider the size of your garden and the amount of space you have available.
How do I prepare the soil for planting?
To prepare the soil for planting, you should do the following:
Remove weeds and debris from the area.
Break up the soil with a garden fork or tiller to loosen it and improve drainage.
Add compost or other organic matter to improve the soil structure and fertility.
Test the pH of the soil and adjust if necessary (most plants prefer a pH between 6.0 and 7.0).
How do I water my garden effectively?
To water your garden effectively, follow these tips:
Water deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth.
Water in the morning or evening to avoid evaporation and leaf burn.
Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to deliver water directly to the roots of your plants.
Monitor the moisture level of the soil and only water when the top few inches are dry.
How do I control pests in my garden naturally?
There are many ways to control pests in your garden naturally, including:
Using natural predators, such as nematodes or biological predators to control the pest population.
Planting pest-resistant plants.
Using physical barriers, such as row covers or netting, to protect plants from pests. Or for example slug wool pellets to create a barrier from slugs or carrot fly netting to protect from carrot flies.
How do I Fertilise my garden?
To Fertilise your garden, follow these steps:
Choose a Fertiliser that is appropriate for the plants you are growing.
Follow the instructions on the Fertiliser label for the correct application rate.
Apply the Fertiliser at the base of the plant, avoiding the foliage.
Water the plants after fertilising to help the Fertiliser reach the roots.
How do I choose the right containers for container gardening?
When choosing containers for container gardening, consider the following:
Size: Choose a container that is appropriate for the size of the plant you want to grow. The container should have enough space for the plant's roots to spread out.
Material: Different materials, such as plastic, ceramic, or metal, have different properties that can affect the health of your plants. Consider the weight of the container, the drainage it provides, and how it will affect the temperature of the soil.
Drainage: Make sure the container has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.
How do I properly prune my plants?
Determine the purpose of the pruning. Are you trying to shape the plant, remove diseased or damaged branches, or encourage new growth?
Use the right tools. For small branches, use hand pruners or scissors. For larger branches, use lopping shears or a pruning saw.
Make clean cuts. Use a sharp tool to make clean cuts that will heal quickly. Avoid tearing or crushing the branches.
Prune at the right time. Some plants should only be pruned during specific times of the year. For example, spring-blooming shrubs should be pruned after they bloom.
Follow the natural shape of the plant. Avoid removing more than 25% of the plant's canopy at one time.
Disinfect your tools. To prevent the spread of diseases, clean and disinfect your pruning tools between plants.
How do I propagate plants from cuttings?
To propagate plants from cuttings, follow these steps:
Choose a healthy, non-flowering shoot or stem from the plant you want to propagate. The cutting should be about 4-6 inches long and have several leaves.
Remove the lower leaves from the cutting, leaving only a few at the top.
Dip the bottom of the cutting into rooting hormone to encourage root growth.
Fill a small pot or container with well-draining soil or a rooting medium, such as perlite or vermiculite.
Plant the cutting in the soil or rooting medium, making sure the leaves are above the soil line.
Water the cutting and cover it with a plastic bag or propagating dome to create a humid environment.
Place the cutting in a location that receives indirect sunlight and has a temperature of around 21 to 23 degrees Celsius.
Check the cutting regularly and water as needed to keep the soil or rooting medium moist, but not soggy.
When the cutting has developed a good root system, typically after 4-8 weeks, it can be transplanted into a larger pot or into the ground.
How do I stop cats from pooing on my garden?
Use a commercial cat repellent, such as CatWatch which is an electronic cat deterrent.
Install a physical barrier, such as a fence or hedge, to keep cats out of the garden.
Place objects that cats find unattractive, such as citrus peels or pinecones, in the garden to discourage them from entering.
Sprinkle black pepper or cayenne pepper around the perimeter of the garden, as the smell can be unpleasant for cats. If you’re finding that these aren’t working, you can try Neudorff Cat Repellent
Consider fencing off a designated area of the garden for the cat to use as a litter box. This can help to redirect the cat's behaviour and keep them from using other areas of the garden as a toilet.
What Is Mulch in Gardening?
In gardening, mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of soil. It can be organic, such as wood chips or leaves, or inorganic, such as gravel or plastic. Mulch serves several purposes in the garden, including retaining moisture in the soil, controlling weeds, and regulating soil temperature. It can also add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. Mulch is typically applied around plants, trees, and shrubs, and can be applied at any time of year.
How do I stop Rats From Entering My Garden?
Remove any sources of food and water: Rats are attracted to gardens because of the abundance of food and water sources. To discourage them from coming, remove any sources of food and water, such as fallen fruit, birdseed, and standing water.
Seal off entry points: Rats can fit through very small spaces, so it's important to seal off any potential entry points into your garden. Use steel wool, caulk, or hardware cloth to block holes and gaps in fences, walls, and sheds.
Use traps or repellents: Traps and repellents can be effective at getting rid of rats in your garden. Snap traps and live traps are both options but be sure to dispose of any caught rats far from your garden to prevent attracting others. Repellents, such as those that emit high-frequency sounds or smells, can also be effective at keeping rats away.
Use physical barriers: Physical barriers, such as fences or wire mesh, can be effective at keeping rats out of your garden. Make sure the barriers are high enough and buried deep enough to prevent rats from climbing or digging under them.
Consult with a pest control professional: If you are unable to get rid of the rats on your own, consider consulting with a pest control professional. They can assess the situation and recommend a course of action to get rid of the rats in your garden.
How Do I Level a Garden?
Here are some steps you can follow to level a garden:
Mark the area: Use string and stakes or spray paint to mark the edges of the garden bed.
Determine the slope: Use a level or a line level to determine the slope of the area. Make note of any high or low points.
Remove any vegetation: Remove any grass, weeds, or other vegetation from the area.
Add or remove soil as needed: Use a shovel or a garden rake to add or remove soil as needed to level the area. If you need to add soil, be sure to add a layer of compost or composted manure to help enrich the soil.
Rake and smooth the soil: Use a garden rake to smooth the soil and remove any large clumps or debris.
Repeat the process: Check the level of the soil again and repeat the process as needed until the area is level.
Add mulch: Once the soil is level, consider adding a layer of mulch to the surface to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Plant your garden: Once the soil is level and prepared, you can plant your garden as desired.
What Colour Can I Paint My Fence To Make It Look Bigger?
To make a fence look bigger, you can try painting it a light or bright colour. Light colours, such as white or pastel shades, can help to reflect light and make the fence appear larger. Bright colours, such as yellow or red, can also draw the eye and make the fence stand out, which can make it appear larger.
Alternatively, you can try using a colour that contrasts with the surrounding landscape. For example, if your garden is predominantly green, you could paint the fence a bold blue or purple to make it stand out and appear larger.
Keep in mind that the colour you choose will also depend on the style of your garden and the overall look you want to achieve. It may be helpful to consult with a design professional or look at colour schemes online for inspiration.
Be sure to treat any wooden fencing with a natural wood treatment, such as Eco Wood.
What Is The Best Gardening Hose?
The best gardening hose will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a gardening hose:
Material: Hoses are typically made of rubber, vinyl, or a combination of the two. Rubber hoses are more durable and can withstand higher water pressure, but they are also heavier and more expensive. Vinyl hoses are lightweight and less expensive, but they are not as durable and can become brittle over time.
Length: Choose a hose that is long enough to reach all areas of your garden. Keep in mind that longer hoses can be more difficult to manoeuvre and store.
Diameter: A hose with a larger diameter can flow more water and is less likely to kink, but it will also be heavier and more difficult to store. A hose with a smaller diameter is easier to handle and store, but it may not flow as much water.
Water pressure: Consider the water pressure in your area when choosing a hose. Hoses with higher water pressure ratings can handle higher pressure without bursting, but they may also be more expensive.
Compatibility: If you have a sprinkler system or other garden accessories, make sure the hose you choose is compatible with them.
Durability: Look for a hose that is built to last and can withstand the wear and tear of regular use.
How Do I Attract Birds To My Garden?
There are several ways to attract birds to your garden:
Provide food: Birds are attracted to gardens that provide a reliable source of food. Offer a variety of birdseed and suet in feeders or on the ground. You can also plant native flowering plants and trees that produce berries and seeds to attract birds.
Provide water: Birds need access to water for drinking and bathing. Offer a birdbath or a small pond for birds to use. Be sure to keep the water clean and fresh.
Create shelter: Birds need places to hide and nest. Offer birdhouses or nesting boxes for birds to use. You can also plant native shrubs and trees to provide natural shelter.
Minimise threats: Predatory pets and pesticides can be threats to birds. Keep cats indoors and use non-toxic pest control methods to create a safe environment for birds.
Make your garden bird-friendly: Consider incorporating elements into your garden design that will appeal to birds, such as native plants, trees, and shrubs; perches; and nesting sites.
By following these tips, you can create a welcoming environment for birds in your garden.
What Is Compost?
Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilising soil amendment. It is made up of a mixture of decomposed plants, garden waste, and food scraps that have been broken down by bacteria and other microorganisms. Compost is a natural and environmentally friendly way to fertilise plants and improve soil structure, as it helps to add nutrients, increase water retention, and improve soil structure. It is also a good way to reduce waste, as it allows us to recycle organic material that would otherwise be discarded.
How To Make Compost?
Here is a basic guide on how to make compost at home:
Choose a location for your compost bin or pile. It should be in a dry, shady spot that is convenient for you to access.
Start a layer of brown materials, such as dry leaves, straw, or wood chips, on the bottom of your bin or pile. These materials will provide carbon and structure to the compost.
Add a layer of green materials, such as grass clippings, food scraps, and coffee grounds, on top of the brown materials. These materials will provide nitrogen and moisture to the compost.
Mix the layers together, using a pitchfork or shovel. It's important to have a good balance of brown and green materials in your compost, as well as a mix of small and large pieces.
Keep the compost moist, but not waterlogged. You can do this by adding water to the compost as needed, or by covering the compost with a tarp to help retain moisture.
Turn the compost regularly, using a pitchfork or shovel, to help aerate the materials and speed up the decomposition process.
Wait for the compost to mature, which can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more, depending on the size and composition of your compost pile. When the compost is ready, it should be dark, crumbly, and have a rich, earthy smell.
Use the compost to enrich the soil in your garden or landscape. You can mix it into the soil or use it as a top dressing around your plants.
What Is Peat Free Compost?
Peat-free compost is a type of soil amendment that is made from materials other than peat moss. Peat moss is a type of organic matter that is harvested from peat bogs, which are wetlands that are rich in plant material. Peat moss is a popular ingredient in many types of compost and potting mixes because it is lightweight, holds moisture well, and has a slightly acidic ph. However, peat bogs are a valuable and fragile ecosystem, and the extraction of peat moss can have negative impacts on the environment. Peat-free compost is an alternative to traditional compost that is made from sustainable, renewable materials such as wood chip, bark, coir, and other plant-based matter. It can be used in the same way as traditional compost and provides similar benefits to plants and soil.
What Is Ericaceous Compost?
Ericaceous compost is a type of soil mix that is specifically formulated for plants that prefer acidic soil conditions. "Ericaceous" refers to plants in the Ericaceae family, which includes rhododendrons, azaleas, heathers, and blueberries. These plants have specific soil requirements and need a soil pH that is below 7.0 (neutral) in order to thrive. Ericaceous compost is made from materials that are naturally acidic, such as pine bark, sphagnum peat moss, and leaf mould, and is designed to help maintain a low pH in the soil. It is often used in container gardens and raised beds, as well as in landscaping and horticulture. Ericaceous compost can be used as a soil amendment or potting mix for acid-loving plants, or as a top dressing to help lower the pH of alkaline soil.
How To Use A Compost Bin?
Using a compost bin such as a Bokashi Bin is a simple and efficient way to turn kitchen and garden waste into nutrient-rich compost for your garden. Here is a basic guide on how to use a compost bin:
Choose a location for your compost bin that is convenient for you to access and near your garden or outdoor plants.
Decide what materials you want to include in your compost bin. You can add a mix of green and brown materials, such as food scraps, grass clippings, leaves, and coffee grounds. Avoid adding meat, dairy products, and diseased plants to your compost bin.
Start filling your compost bin with alternating layers of green and brown materials. Mix the layers together as you go, using a pitchfork or shovel.
Keep the compost moist, but not waterlogged. You can add water to the compost as needed or cover the compost with a tarp to help retain moisture.
Turn the compost regularly, using a pitchfork or shovel, to help aerate the materials and speed up the decomposition process.
Monitor the temperature of the compost. The compost should be warm to the touch, which indicates that the decomposition process is happening properly.
When the compost is ready, it should be dark, crumbly, and have a rich, earthy smell. You can use a screened compost sifter or a fine-mesh screen to separate the finished compost from any larger pieces that have not yet fully decomposed.
Use the finished compost as a soil amendment in your garden or landscape, or as a natural fertilising agent for your plants.
What Can I Put in a Bokashi Compost Bin?
A Bokashi compost bin is a special type of composting system that uses a specific type of microbe-rich bran to accelerate the decomposition process. Bokashi composting is a good option for people who want to compost food scraps and other organic matter in a small space, as it does not produce odours and can be done indoors.
Here are some things you can put in a Bokashi compost bin:
Food scraps, including fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and tea bags
Bread, pasta, and grains
Meat, fish, and poultry scraps (excluding bones)
Flowers and plants
It is important to note that Bokashi composting is not suitable for all types of organic matter. You should avoid adding large or tough materials, such as bones, large branches, or woody plant debris, to a Bokashi compost bin, as these materials may not break down properly. You should also avoid adding chemicals, pet waste, or diseased plants to your Bokashi compost bin.
What Can I Put In A Compost Bin?
A compost bin is a container that is used to collect and decompose organic matter, such as garden waste and food scraps, into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. There are many things you can put in a compost bin, including:
Fruit and vegetable scraps
Coffee grounds and tea bags
Leaves and twigs
Shredded paper and cardboard
Wood chips and sawdust (from untreated wood)
In general, it is best to include a mix of "green" materials, which are high in nitrogen, and "brown" materials, which are high in carbon. A good balance of these materials will help to speed up the decomposition process.
There are also some things that you should avoid putting in your compost bin, including:
Meat, poultry, and fish scraps
Chemicals or synthetic materials
These materials may attract pests, produce odours, or contain pathogens that could harm plants or humans. It is also important to avoid adding large or tough materials, such as bones or branches, to your compost bin, as these may not break down properly.
What Is Comfrey?
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia. It is known for its thick, hairy leaves and clusters of small, bell-shaped flowers, which can be purple, pink, or white in colour. Comfrey has a long history of use in traditional medicine, and it is still used today for a variety of purposes.
Comfrey is often grown in gardens for its attractive flowers and as a natural fertilising agent. It is known for its deep root system, which helps it to extract nutrients from the soil and make them available to other plants. Comfrey can be grown from root cuttings or seeds, and it prefers moist, well-draining soil in a sunny location.
Comfrey has a number of medicinal properties, and it is often used to treat skin wounds, bruises, and sprains. It is also used as a natural Fertiliser, as it is high in nutrients and can help to improve the health and fertility of the soil. Some caution should be exercised when using comfrey, as it can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. Here at Gardening Naturally we sell a Comfrey feed, which is a highly effective natural plant feed. Gardening Naturally also sells comfrey pellets, which are an incredible way to speed up the growth of plants.